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      Understanding the Immune-Endocrine Effects of Vitamin D in SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Role in Protecting against Neurodamage


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          Calcitriol and hydroxyderivatives of lumisterol and tachisterol are secosteroid hormones with immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, several studies have correlated deficient serum concentrations of vitamin D 3 (calcifediol) with increased severity of the course of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among systemic complications, subjective (anosmia, ageusia, depression, dizziness) and objective (ischemic stroke, meningoencephalitis, myelitis, seizures, Guillain-Barré syndrome) neurological symptoms have been reported in up to 80% of severe COVID-19 patients. In this narrative review, we will resume the pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the mechanisms of acute and chronic neurological damage. SARS-CoV-2 can disrupt the integrity of the endothelial cells of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to enter the nervous central system. Invasion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and polarization of astrocytes and microglia cells always in a pro-inflammatory sense together with the pro-coagulative phenotype of cerebral endothelial cells in response to both SARS-CoV-2 and immune cells invasion (immunothrombosis) are the major drivers of neurodamage. Calcitriol and hydroxyderivatives of lumisterol and tachisterol could play an adjuvant role in neuroprotection through mitigation of neuroinflammation and protection of endothelial integrity of the BBB. Dedicated studies on this topic are currently lacking and are desirable to confirm the link between vitamin D 3 and neuroprotection in COVID-19 patients.

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          Most cited references72

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          NF-κB signaling in inflammation

          The transcription factor NF-κB regulates multiple aspects of innate and adaptive immune functions and serves as a pivotal mediator of inflammatory responses. NF-κB induces the expression of various pro-inflammatory genes, including those encoding cytokines and chemokines, and also participates in inflammasome regulation. In addition, NF-κB plays a critical role in regulating the survival, activation and differentiation of innate immune cells and inflammatory T cells. Consequently, deregulated NF-κB activation contributes to the pathogenic processes of various inflammatory diseases. In this review, we will discuss the activation and function of NF-κB in association with inflammatory diseases and highlight the development of therapeutic strategies based on NF-κB inhibition.
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            Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline.

            The objective was to provide guidelines to clinicians for the evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency with an emphasis on the care of patients who are at risk for deficiency. The Task Force was composed of a Chair, six additional experts, and a methodologist. The Task Force received no corporate funding or remuneration. Consensus was guided by systematic reviews of evidence and discussions during several conference calls and e-mail communications. The draft prepared by the Task Force was reviewed successively by The Endocrine Society's Clinical Guidelines Subcommittee, Clinical Affairs Core Committee, and cosponsoring associations, and it was posted on The Endocrine Society web site for member review. At each stage of review, the Task Force received written comments and incorporated needed changes. Considering that vitamin D deficiency is very common in all age groups and that few foods contain vitamin D, the Task Force recommended supplementation at suggested daily intake and tolerable upper limit levels, depending on age and clinical circumstances. The Task Force also suggested the measurement of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level by a reliable assay as the initial diagnostic test in patients at risk for deficiency. Treatment with either vitamin D(2) or vitamin D(3) was recommended for deficient patients. At the present time, there is not sufficient evidence to recommend screening individuals who are not at risk for deficiency or to prescribe vitamin D to attain the noncalcemic benefit for cardiovascular protection.
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              Neuropathology of patients with COVID-19 in Germany: a post-mortem case series

              Background Prominent clinical symptoms of COVID-19 include CNS manifestations. However, it is unclear whether severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of COVID-19, gains access to the CNS and whether it causes neuropathological changes. We investigated the brain tissue of patients who died from COVID-19 for glial responses, inflammatory changes, and the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the CNS. Methods In this post-mortem case series, we investigated the neuropathological features in the brains of patients who died between March 13 and April 24, 2020, in Hamburg, Germany. Inclusion criteria comprised a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 by quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) and availability of adequate samples. We did a neuropathological workup including histological staining and immunohistochemical staining for activated astrocytes, activated microglia, and cytotoxic T lymphocytes in the olfactory bulb, basal ganglia, brainstem, and cerebellum. Additionally, we investigated the presence and localisation of SARS-CoV-2 by qRT-PCR and by immunohistochemistry in selected patients and brain regions. Findings 43 patients were included in our study. Patients died in hospitals, nursing homes, or at home, and were aged between 51 years and 94 years (median 76 years [IQR 70–86]). We detected fresh territorial ischaemic lesions in six (14%) patients. 37 (86%) patients had astrogliosis in all assessed regions. Activation of microglia and infiltration by cytotoxic T lymphocytes was most pronounced in the brainstem and cerebellum, and meningeal cytotoxic T lymphocyte infiltration was seen in 34 (79%) patients. SARS-CoV-2 could be detected in the brains of 21 (53%) of 40 examined patients, with SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins found in cranial nerves originating from the lower brainstem and in isolated cells of the brainstem. The presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the CNS was not associated with the severity of neuropathological changes. Interpretation In general, neuropathological changes in patients with COVID-19 seem to be mild, with pronounced neuroinflammatory changes in the brainstem being the most common finding. There was no evidence for CNS damage directly caused by SARS-CoV-2. The generalisability of these findings needs to be validated in future studies as the number of cases and availability of clinical data were low and no age-matched and sex-matched controls were included. Funding German Research Foundation, Federal State of Hamburg, EU (eRARE), German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG (Basel, Switzerland )
                9 August 2023
                Jan-Dec 2023
                : 30
                : 1
                : 185-195
                [a ]Laboratory of Experimental Rheumatology and Academic Division of Clinical Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine and Specialties, University of Genova, IRCCS San Martino Polyclinic Hospital, Genoa, Italy
                [b ]Laboratory of Experimental Rheumatology and Academic Division of Clinical Rheumatology, IRCCS San Martino Polyclinic Hospital, Genoa, Italy
                [c ]Department of Internal Medicine, Ghent University Hospital, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium
                [d ]Department of Rheumatology, Ghent University Hospital, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium
                [e ]Unit for Molecular Immunology and Inflammation, Inflammation Research Center, Flemish Institute for Biotechnology, Ghent, Belgium
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: Emanuele Gotelli, emanuele.gotelli@ 123456live.it
                © 2023 The Author(s). Published by S. Karger AG, Basel

                This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC) ( http://www.karger.com/Services/OpenAccessLicense). Usage and distribution for commercial purposes requires written permission.

                : 14 May 2023
                : 25 July 2023
                : 2023
                Page count
                Figures: 3, References: 72, Pages: 11
                Authors received no funding for the manuscript.
                Review Article

                vitamin d,neuroimmunoendocrinology,sars-cov-2,covid-19,neuroinflammation


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